Forthcoming in Nietzsche-Studien: Internationales Jahrbuch für die Nietzsche-Forschung
Abstract. Nietzsche is known for his penetrating critique of Mitleid (commonly rendered as ‘compassion’). He seems to be critical of all compassion but at times also seems to praise a different form of compassion, which he refers to as “our compassion” and contrasts it with “your compassion” (Beyond Good and Evil § 225). Some commentators have interpreted this to mean that Nietzsche’s criticism is not as unconditional as it may seem–that he does not condemn compassion entirely. To the contrary, Nietzsche allows for and encourages healthy expressions of compassion, which are active, not only increasing one’s sense of psychological power, but more so modifying and bringing about beneficial (and creative) changes to one’s surroundings. I disagree and contend that even though Nietzsche appears to speak favorably of some forms of compassion, he regards the nature of all compassion to be fundamentally bad. Furthermore, I suggest that Nietzsche’s discussion on different forms of compassion have significant implications for achieving greatness and meaning in life. More specifically, I argue that, for Nietzsche, ‘our compassion’, however regrettable qua compassion it is, may give occasion for a rare and peculiar insight into ‘co-suffering’ with others, which in turn results in overcoming compassion entirely. I also argue that although Nietzsche objects to compassion, he approves of a form of what feminist theorists might now call ‘anticipatory empathy’. Even though a large body of literature has evolved over Nietzsche’s critical evaluation of compassion, his understanding of a non-compassionate response to suffering is, in my view, rather overlooked and should receive more attention. I believe my reconstruction of Nietzsche’s discussion of his brand of compassion opens up many possible avenues of research on his moral psychology and ethical thought.
THE AMBIGUITY IN SCHOPENHAUER’S DOCTRINE OF THE THING-IN-ITSELF
Forthcoming in The Review of Metaphysics: A Philosophical Quarterly
Abstract. The general attitude towards Arthur Schopenhauer’s metaphysics is rather fiercely critical and at times even tendentious. It seems that the figure of Schopenhauer as an irredeemably flawed, stubborn, and contradictory philosopher serves as a leitmotiv among scholars. Schopenhauer’s identification of the thing-in-itself with the will continues to be a thorny puzzle in the secondary literature, and it presents perhaps the greatest challenge to Schopenhauer scholars. Schopenhauer borrows the term ‘thing-in-itself’ from Immanuel Kant, who uses it to refer to a reality that is distinct from what appears to us, and hence unknowable. Despite the fact that several interpretations have been offered to make sense of Schopenhauer’s identification of the thing-in-itself with the will, there appears to be no consensus about how to interpret this identification as well as his understanding of the term ‘thing-in-itself’. Unlike the other interpretations, the interpretation that I offer here distinguishes between three distinct and mutually incompatible views that Schopenhauer formulates about the thing-in-itself. I argue that it is not only difficult to give a coherent, consistent account of Schopenhauer’s position, but also not worth trying, because such an endeavor comes at the cost of ignoring the textual richness and depth of thought that Schopenhauer’s works offer.